Transitions - The 3rd Inevitability and How to Manage Them

Over the years, I’ve discovered there are few among us who embrace transitions. I’m not one of them.

Just ask my husband.

For perhaps the first ten years of our lives together, when we vacationed overseas (before the aid of the Internet to illustrate the sort of place we were headed to), I’d arrive exhausted, hungry, not yet adjusted to the time change (another transition), and would typically find myself utterly disappointed with our choice of accommodation and/or locale.

While busy drowning myself in tears on the nearest pillow, as if on cue, my dear and very loving husband would begin phoning every (even higher end) hotel in the vicinity to enquire about any possible last minute availability.

And, just as inevitable as my disappointment and tears, was the answer, no, there were no other options open to us. In other words, I just had to suck it up. Damn.

The point of this story, however, has not yet been made.

The very next morning, as was usually the case on all other first mornings on these sorts of holidays, I’d wake up feeling hopeful after a good night’s sleep and would enthusiastically sweep the drapes aside and witness paradise right in front of my eyes.

All the disappointment from the night before washed away within seconds, and I was convinced that I couldn’t have been happier anywhere else on earth.

Yes, I, too, feel for my poor husband, and although this experience continued (until the Internet arrived), I was unable to believe that this time it would all work out equally well.

I was convinced it wouldn’t. But it always did.

So my point? No, I’m not bi-polar. I just don’t do transitions very well.

Not all of my transitions are so dramatic (or, ahem, so childish), but the truth is it typically takes most of us a bit of time to adjust to new circumstances.

Whether we’re talking about…

  • adopting new habits;
  • moving to a new city (or new location within the same city);
  • beginning a new school year, or leaving university and moving into a new career;
  • experiencing the empty nest (well, to be honest, in my case, there was at least some degree of glee combined with my sadness);
  • joining a new fitness class; or even
  • adjusting to new seasons of the year…

Transitions require both patience and trust that we’ll be okay once we’re on the ‘other side’ of them.

Of course, there are much harder, and more painful transitions that face us all at some point or other, like loss.

Loss through death, divorce, distance, or illness are extremely hard to transition through, and for some of these kinds of loss, the pain associated with the ‘transition’ can continue for a lifetime.

However, these are not the kind of transitions that I’m referring to today. I’m simply aiming at the ones that cause us some degree of discombobulation, an unsteadiness for a few days or even weeks, and a separation from what we’ve known, the comfortable – even if it was uncomfortable in some ways.

Inevitably, we adjust and transition past the change, and whatever we’re facing becomes our new norm. And usually all is well once again. Until the next transition…

It’s not to say that I don’t like change, or even spontaneous change. I do. I search for change, and reach for new challenges all the time: new projects, new experiences, meeting new people, discovering new theories to aid in my work as a psychotherapist.

I love ‘new’. Eventually.

So, in other words, the uncomfortable transitions that are sometimes rooted in change don’t stop me from pushing past them in order to create a more fulfilling life experience. In fact, if I find myself in a rut, even a comfortable rut, I get bored, and that state is, for me, far worse than the uneasy angst that I get from reaching toward something new.

The reason I’ve decided to write about transitions is because I listen to clients share on a regular basis how much they dislike them, and if that’s also true for you, I’d like to console you by saying that it’s perfectly normative to feel this way.

Most of us do.

But, in the end, I’d like to encourage you to let yourself experience the uncomfortable transitions that you may face as you add ‘newness’ into your life in whatever form you choose.

Invariably, they’ll keep you feeling more youthful, stronger, more excited about life, more interested – and interesting – than if you were to back away from transitioning into the person you were meant to be.

If you’re about to launch into a new transition, hang on to yourself through the unsteadiness, and let me know how it goes when you ‘land’ on the other side!